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TTC tragedy: worker hit & killed by train near Yorkdale station

The TTC is coping with the tragic death of one of its longtime workers after an early-morning accident on the tracks north of Yorkdale subway station on Friday.

“There is a profound sense of shock in this building and throughout the commission at how this could possibly have happened, and particularly to such a valued co-worker and member of the TTC family,” commission CEO Andy Byford said Friday at TTC headquarters at Yonge Street and Davisville Avenue.

The accident forced the commission to halt subway service between Downsview and Lawrence West stations and led to a decreased number of trains running on the entire subway network. Full service was up and running again just after 1 p.m.

Peter Pavlovski, 49, a subway track and tunnel foreman, was described by Byford as a “very respected, very senior and very capable member of staff.” He was struck and killed by a southbound subway work train around 4:45 a.m. The 22-year TTC veteran was supervising a crew of seven on an above-ground portion of the tracks when the accident happened.

Byford said Pavlovski was a family man with a wife and children, and asked the media to respect their need for privacy.

“On a terribly shocking day for the TTC, our condolences go out to Peter’s family and to his co-workers throughout the commission,” he said.

A fellow worker was also hit by the train and suffered a head injury. He has since been released from hospital. The man driving the train used to shuttle workers and equipment to and from job sites was taken to hospital with chest pains and was in “extreme shock,” Byford said.

The TTC is working with police and the Ministry of Labour to determine what caused the fatal accident.

“It’s too early to say for certain exactly what the root cause of the tragic incident is,” the TTC CEO said.

Byford said the TTC has very strict safety guidelines in regards to crews working on a line with a train on an adjacent track. Workers must undergo special training before being able to access TTC tracks and work sites are equipped with devices to ensure the area is safe.

He said the commission has a strong safety record, which makes Pavlovski’s death the more shocking.

Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113 president Bob Kinnear expressed his condolences Friday and he also highlighted the TTC’s strong commitment to safety.

“This is unfortunately a tragic reflection of the difficult job our members do,” he said.

“We have an excellent safety record at the Toronto Transit Commission. We have extensive training for our employees that are responsible for doing work at track level. I think it’s paramount right now that we do not speculate on the circumstances surrounding this incident.”

The TTC had to deal with a much busier-than-normal ride on the entire Yonge-University-Spadina line for the Friday morning rush and was advising customers to set aside extra time or take an alternate route.

Trains couldn’t leave the Wilson yard, meaning the TTC was working with about half the amount of trains it usually runs. Trains had to be pulled from the Bloor-Danforth line to service the north-south route and 90 shuttle buses were running along the Yonge-University-Spadina line.

“I think on a day like today, more than ever, [customers] would understand and bear with us under such tragic circumstances,” Byford said.

Friday’s accident was reminiscent of another incident that claimed a transit worker’s life more than five years ago.

Antonio Almeida, 38, was killed in April 2007 when a piece of scaffolding collapsed in a subway tunnel between Lawrence and Eglinton stations. He was working as part of an 11-member maintenance crew removing asbestos from the tunnel wall when the accident happened. Two other workers were hurt.

The commission was fined $200,000 after pleading guilty to an Occupational Health and Safety Act violation.

Three people were killed and about 140 others were injured when two trains collided north of Dupont station in August 1995.

The TTC has cancelled Saturday’s customer town hall event at the Etobicoke Civic Centre because of the accident.

Statement from Mayor Rob Ford:

I would like to take this opportunity to convey my sympathies to the family of Peter Pavlovski, who lost his life while on the job earlier this morning. Our thoughts and prayers are with them and the family of the second employee who was injured.

During this difficult time, I would like to commend the professionalism and dedication of our TTC workers who work hard every day to provide Toronto with reliable, safe public transit and who are continuing to operate the service despite the tragic loss of their friend and colleague.